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Verstappen takes sprint pole in Miami

World champion Max Verstappen grabbed pole position for Saturday’s sprint race at the Miami Grand Prix but was far from happy with the performance of his tyres.

Verstappen finished 0.108 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez third.

“To be honest with you, it felt pretty terrible. Maybe that last session, it was just really difficult to get the tyres to work. I didn’t improve much on the soft but I’ll take it,” said the Dutchman, who was also fastest in the earlier practice session.

“It didn’t feel enjoyable to drive – practice was really comfortable, I was quite confident we could fight for pole. But qualifying it didn’t look like that for me – I don’t know what happened to the other cars on that last lap,” he said.

All the drivers opted for a single flying lap in SQ3 with Verstappen posting his time of one minute 27.641 seconds.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo had an encouraging qualifier finishing fourth fastest in his RB ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

“I know it’s in me – but did I expect to do a second-row start? Probably not that good,” said Ricciardo.

“It was wild. The laps were good but it’s hard to be really clean around here, it was a tricky track. Both laps I kissed the wall, I was definitely pushing. I’m very proud of what I did today but also the team has been bringing upgrades the last few races,” he added.

McLaren threatened in the early stages but weren’t able to make the most of the soft tyres in SQ3 with Oscar Piastri sixth while Lando Norris will start from P9.

“I just pushed too hard. The car was feeling very good. Just silly to be honest,” said Norris.

“A couple of mistakes in Turn One and it was a big spiral from there,” he added.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso were seventh and eighth with Haas’s German driver Nico Hulkenberg 10th.

It was a disappointing session for Mercedes who saw both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell go out in SQ2.

“We need to work overnight and make some improvements for the main qualifying,” Russell said.

“I’ve got no doubt we will move forward in the Sprint. We need to try and get on top of our qualifying woes. It’s always difficult to fight with the cars ahead when we have started on the back foot,” added the Englishman.

Earlier Verstappen posted the fastest time in practice while Leclerc managed just three laps.

Verstappen, who has won four of the five Formula One races this season, posted a best practice lap time of 1:28.595 despite having some handling issues earlier in the session.

The Dutchman, who has won both the previous Miami races, finished with a time 0.105sec quicker than McLaren’s Piastri.

Ferrari’s Sainz was third fastest followed by George Russell of Mercedes.

Leclerc over-steered at turn 16 and spun out, with his stranded vehicle blocking the track and bringing out an early red flag.

The sprint race will be held on Saturday ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s main race.

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